I’m a single mum, a responsible, good person who contributes to society and a good mum who’s raising a healthy, happy child. I’ve paid my taxes honestly, done years of volunteer work and I’d smile at you if I saw you in the street. I’m not a snarling scrag who leaves the kids in the car while I spend my cheques on booze. I spend quality time raising my daughter. I was badly injured giving birth so I’m not able to go back to the career I enjoyed previously, as much as I’d love to, and employment options are limited. So, it’s time that I have to invest in creating the most well-rounded and intelligent gift to this country that I can.   Single parent payments have been my lifeline as I piece together a new career, piece together my body and undertake 24 hours a day of parenting on my own.

Although the recent Senate decision to pass The Fair Incentives to Work Bill (designed to incentivise parents to return to work) does not affect me immediately, it’s made me think about those whose lives will become even more challenging in the near future.  The changes to social security will take place in January 2013 and will see sole parents with a youngest child over eight years moved off single parent payments and onto Newstart Allowance. In a nutshell, they’ll have increased obligations, reduced payments and a whole world of extra stress and hardship.  Not the best recipe for growing the next generation of a healthy nation.

For many, the PPS (parent payment single) is the lifeline that supports sole parents through the pitfalls of a casualised workforce and with these changes, anyone who is working casual hours will have the income threshhold lowered- meaning they won’t be able to earn as much before their payment is affected.  Anyone who is shifted from PPS to Newstart will automatically have their benefit reduced by around $60 – $100 per week. In my world that’s the equivalent of a week’s worth of fruit and vegies, ambulance cover and a few warm baths.

Utilities and rent prices are going up all the time and for some reason, lately, it seems that the fewer items you put into the shopping basket, the more it costs.  Money is always tight, so the idea of having less of it….is suffocating.

It’s a Western World whinge.  At this stage, most of us have a roof over our head, access to benefits and a subsidised health system; we’re not walking for hours to get to the nearest well or unable to treat our children’s malaria. We’re fortunate enough to live in Australia, a land where the mineral resources are a-plenty and the CEOs are the richest in the world. So why then, is the hour of a parent worth so much less than theirs?

I absolutely consider child rearing to be a job- that’s why there’s an industry in childcare.  In civilised society, it’s a job.  And whether I choose to do it or pay someone else to do it, it’s really quite irrelevant. The only problem is, that deciding to raise your child yourself, puts you at a disadvantage. Raising a child removes you from a competitive workforce for many years, it pays a pitiful wage per hour and is often maligned in community perception.  Single parents who stay with their child, either by choice or circumstance will be put into financial peril by the Senate’s decision.

A decrease in payment reduces ability to afford healthy food, proper dental care, decent living arrangements…. education… birthday presents. I appreciate that the economy needs to be put back into surplus, but quite frankly, I think there are far more wasteful allocations of funds than those given to parents. Taking money away from the people who spend everything they have on the local economy, investing it in the country’s future seems counterproductive to me.

From here on, every hour is precious, every cent is marked and life becomes about survival.  Single parents, if you have to scrump, make toys out of matchboxes, eat weeds, live in the dark, then do it.   Do what you have to do to keep a roof over your head and provide your families with the best life you can possibly have; trade with your neighbours, barter your skills and band together as a community. Share and find laughter wherever you can. Money is tight, but friendship is tighter.

One of the last things we should do is take it out on each other, and the very last thing we should do is take it out on the kids.  Good luck.  And please read the last word I write, carefully, for it is one of the few remaining things I feel I can afford to do for the love of it- other than raise my child; pay attention to it because like all parents, it has earned your acknowledgement and give it your deepest respect.

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  • When I worked in Centrelink, we had research which clearly showed very few single parents were taking advantage of the “generosity” of the government. I doubt that’s changed.


  • Sadly, the ones who happily rip off the system are to blame for Centrelink cut backs. It’s the honest ones who always lose out


  • I’ve heard there have been a lot more changes over the years too. I think only the ones who really want to get off the welfare bus will benefit from the changes though


  • many things that the guv chose to spend money on, is considered a waste. foreign aid would be better spent here for a start. get people out of the streets etc


  • I think 8 years is plenty of time to get yourself educated and trained up to return to the work force. Yeah, it’s hard, but you’re being left with no choice. Unfortunately, it is the few who wreck it for the rest. The ones who sit on welfare, having baby after baby, wasting their money on drink drugs smokes. You can thank them for the forced changes to the rest of us


  • Really very good knowledge to know! Thanks for sharing this article!


  • I hear you. I am a single mother and bound to where I live by the family courts to reside close to my ex husband as I am the primary care giver. I have no family or friend’s where I live for any type of emotional support. My ex hasn’t paid the right amount of child support since we left 2 years ago and it always thousands and thousands of dollars behind.

    I am a full-time uni student in my last year prior to having to do a Honours year. My rent is paid with the single parent pension and we are required to live of the FTB, that is paid on what my ex should be paying with child support and not what he actually pays.

    But I have peace in my heart and teach my son about saving up to do things and about sharing, and not wasting and we get by (JUST). I have always worked up until I had my son who is 4. I see a wonderful future ahead and sometimes when you have NOTHING you realise that STUFF doesn’t make you happy. This tough financial situation has given me strength to be able to get on with things when things are hard.

    I think the ladies are right on this forum single mother’s have it hard, and so do low income dual income families and my parents are pensioners that always seem to have a bare fridge.

    I really appreciated the particle and know where you are coming from and it was nice for a lot of ladies to contribute by posting their comments.


  • Im also a single mother and agree 100% with everything you said!


  • I didn’t understand the logic behind the last change in payments, I was confused as to how they thought single parents could get by on even less, now they are changing things again and there will be another whole lot of worry for any number of people.


  • Interesting and informative reading. Thanks for sharing.


  • Well said, Anna. You have so very eloquently told your story, without pity or anger, and I am filled with nothing but admiration for you. What really makes me angry are the so-called “single parents” who collect government benefits, when they’re actually in a relationship and living with a partner, but not declaring it. And the government plans to give Paid Parental Leave to women who earn over $100,000 when there are people struggling on a quarter or less of that amount. Governments are so out of touch with the struggles of everyday people.


  • Thank you for your honest story and sharing it. Unfortunately many people are struggling one way or another even families that have two incomes. Over the years Governments have made some strange decisions regarding income support payments, some have been given to sway voters and once something is given and then relied upon for many years it makes taking that payment away or changing the rules devastating for many families and I genuinely feel for people like yourself who aren’t riding the gravy train and are doing all that you can and just need some help to keep you doing the best you can for your family.

    I wish you all the best and hope your situation improves.


  • some parents aren’t single by choice and making it more difficult just leads to more poverty in Australian children


  • and it just seems to be getting worse

    • Unfortunately the way things are these days it sure does seem to be getting worse. :(


  • I can only see things getting worse, more cuts and not enough jobs. The government we have now are seemly only looking after those how have. I can see a lot more homeless people, kids in foster care and even suicides with all the government has in store for us. But hey we aren’t Gina are we?


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